You’re looking at a house and counting the costs of the initial purchase, not to mention the mortgage and maintenance costs. It’s natural to look at all the expenses and wonder if there’s something you can skip for the sake of an extra few hundred dollars. In this article, I and Schrodinger’s cat are going to explain why skipping the home inspection is not a good idea.
I know, I know… there just aren’t enough articles out there enumerating the wonders and glories of the home inspection. But this one’s different! For one, it has a cat in it. Two, it talks about quantum mechanics just enough to make someone think that this article is about quantum mechanics, but not enough to bore you out of your skull. Three, it actually has some useful reasons why you should shell out several hundred dollars so that someone will crawl around the home you propose to buy.
First, we have to talk about the cat and quantum mechanics. Erwin Schrodinger’s famous thought experiment is fairly well known in its simplest form – the theory that if a cat was placed in a box fitted with a mechanism that had a 50/50 probability of killing the cat in an hour’s time, in an hour’s time, the cat (to the observer) will be in two states at once – alive/dead. Until the box is opened. Then there is only one state of two: a dead cat or a really pissed off cat. (If you were shoved into a box, any box, and locked in for an hour, not knowing what’s happening, yeah, you’d be upset too, never mind the possible cyanide poisoning.)
Back to the home inspection. Don’t worry; this will come together shortly. If you want to learn more about the actual Schrodinger’s Cat experiment (don’t worry, it was all hypothetical), head over to Wikipedia and look it up there for something that will really twist your mind.
Okay, your potential home is Schrodinger’s box and you are Schrodinger’s cat. The mechanism is your house’s quality – good/bad repair, good/bad construction, presence of parasites, mold or other nasties, etc. The good news is that the 50/50 chance is not that you’re going to die. However, you have a good chance of coming out of the box pissed off.
This is because, unlike Schrodinger’s theoretical cat, you have a choice in going into the box in the first place. In fact, you’re spending a huge chunk of your hard-earned money on that box and you’ve probably decorated it and planted some kind of flowers around it. If the mechanism trips, though, all of that work suddenly becomes for naught because you have termites and the house is collapsing around your ears, or the roof is sliding into your pansy patch or black mold is invading the basement and threatening to take over the kitchen and you see your vacations for the next 6 years disappearing under a pile of new drywall.
From the outside, Schrodinger’s box, no doubt, looks fine. Once the cat is committed inside it, though, the true nature of Schrodinger’s box is eventually going to reveal itself. Now, assuming that the cat entered the box of its own free will (don’t laugh; there are cats who have a passion for small, ill-fitting boxes), don’t you think that the cat might have wished that it had someone explain the nature of that mechanism on the side? Maybe it might wish that it could have gotten some advice on whether to get into the box in the first place. (Now, we’re definitely in Theory Land, because no self-respecting cat has ever asked for advice in my awareness, but you can appreciate the point I’m trying to make)
Without a proper home inspection done, you will never know if there are hidden evils in your house until they reveal themselves – usually at the most inopportune times. Your house inspection is aimed at informing you about things that can make your house into a money trap or a danger to live in. It is not going to guarantee that nothing is wrong or ever will go wrong, but it can tell you about aspects of your potential home that may end up being serious concerns. The home inspector may also recommend additional inspections of the roof and for pests. This money, while a respectable sum, is not just something that real estate professionals recommend to you in order to point and laugh and say, “Look! I got them to spend more money!”; it is a necessary step to avoiding unpleasant and very costly surprises.
Observers of the Schodinger cat experiment obviously won’t be looking at it from the cat’s point of view, just as people who see you go through the house buying process won’t be looking at it from your point of view. If your house succumbs to one of the many ailments that can affect homes, they will view it as an interesting thought experiment in buying real estate and each will take away their own impressions. You, however will be the one to really feel the effects of the experience of investing in a house that is now giving you no end of grief. It’s a lot more personal when you’re the cat.
Schrodinger did not include the cat’s perspective in his original experiment, so we have no way of knowing whether the cat was inclined to buy real estate. However, since you are, avoid becoming Schrodinger’s cat. Get the home inspection done.
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